Ben Nevis Centre complaints trigger urgent visit from High Life Highland boss Walsh

The state of the Ben Nevis Centre, pictured, is at the centre of complaints from local community councillors. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, NO-F33-Glen-Nevis-Visitor-Centre-01.jpg
The state of the Ben Nevis Centre, pictured, is at the centre of complaints from local community councillors. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, NO-F33-Glen-Nevis-Visitor-Centre-01.jpg

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High Life Highland (HLH) boss Steve Walsh has made arrangements to meet tomorrow (Friday) with community councillors concerned over the state of the organisation’s Ben Nevis Visitor Centre, which they say is a litter-strewn mess with boring displays and lacking sufficient staff.

At  the July meeting of Fort William, Inverlochy and Torlundy Community Council, members discussed what they described as the unkempt state of the visitor centre parking area, grounds and the garden of contemplation in Glen Nevis which they alleged were no longer being maintained at all.

The meeting’s draft minutes continue: ‘Litter not being removed, seating area messy and uncared for and the entrance to the car park unattractive. The toilets are not open for long enough, especially in the late afternoon/evening when walkers are coming down off the hill.

‘The staff are dedicated and hard working but the VC [visitor centre] is poorly staffed with sometimes only one member of staff on at a time and this has been happening since prior to Covid.

‘Dull displays, very little information on the Ben path, weather conditions or clothing requirements for the Ben and little if no promotion of the area.’

Community councillors felt the visitor centre website and Facebook pages had poor online presences and that it appeared High Life Highland had an unacceptable and disappointing ‘lack of interest’ in the visitor centre.

The minutes record community councillors’ view that the centre should be run for the
benefit of the area as Ben Nevis and Glen Nevis were undoubtedly two of the busiest destinations locally and in Scotland, and a key income generator for Lochaber.

However, community councillors felt this was not reflected in the service delivered at
present at the centre. Members agreed that these are community concerns and need to be addressed.

As a result, a letter was sent to High Life Highland chief executive, Mr Walsh.

Asked to comment on the community council’s concerns, a spokesperson for High Life Highland told the Lochaber Times: ‘We were recently contacted by representatives of the Fort William Community Council regarding concerns they have around operations at the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre.

‘Like many visitor attractions, the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre has seen a significant increase in visitor numbers.

‘While it is positive and reassuring to see this surge in numbers, it has also come with its own challenges. These have included dirty and unauthorised camping, littering
and visitors not being Covid-compliant or adhering to the countryside code, all of which HLH has looked to address.

‘High Life Highland has engaged with the community council and it is obviously keen to fully understand the points raised and work with them to discuss the concerns that they have raised.

‘For this reason, our chief executive has asked to meet directly with representatives at their earliest convenience to discuss the matters, and we can confirm that this meeting is scheduled to take place next Friday [13th ]’.